When President Trump spoke before Congress for the first time he used the word “gleaming” when talking about restoring America’s infrastructure. During the second day of ConExpo-Con/Agg 2017 in Las Vegas, American Roads & Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA) President and CEO Pete Ruane used the words “once-in-a-generation opportunity.”
Speaking before a small crowd at the Case Construction Equipment booth, Ruane pushed the onlookers to push their members of Congress into passing a long-term transportation bill, the one Trump has been calling before since he started his campaign for president.
“We are looking at a once-in-a-generation opportunity because very little has been done [to change the transportation funding formula] in the last 30 years,” said Ruane. “We have the opportunity to change all that.
“I’m here to tell you it is not that simple,” Ruane continued. “We have been here before. Now [infrastructure funding] is a centerpiece but take it with a big grain of salt because the plan has already been attacked by both parties. Without pressuring your member of Congress I don’t think it is going to happen.”
If anything is indeed going to happen it needs to be now, said Ruane, because soon lawmakers will be focusing on the next election.
The road and bridge industry is performing steadily since the passage of the FAST Act, but there is no sign of a boom in the near future. The market grew just 1% in 2016 compared to 2015. However, states continue to take matters into their own hands. Right now there are 71 transportation funding-related bills being talked about in 23 states, and back in November voters approved $203 billion in transportation funding.
ARTBA recently surveyed road and bridge contractors, and most are expecting either normal or above normal growth over the next 12 months. ARTBA Chief Economist Alison Black is expecting a flat or slightly down market in 2017.